JaQuail Townser, a 6-foot-3, 195-pound guard, signed recently with Jacksonville State after two seasons at Southwestern Illinois College in Belleville.
BELLEVILLE – JaQuail Townser’s next stop is Jacksonville State. And the Alton High product hopes it becomes Sweet Home Alabama for him.
Townser, a 6-foot-3, 195-pound guard, signed recently with Jacksonville State, a member of the 12-team Ohio Valley Conference. So it’s a Division I basketball setting for him after two seasons at Southwestern Illinois College in Belleville.
“I like the coaching staff there and I can go right in and play,” said Towner, a junior-to-be. “Overall, it’s a nice school.”
Jacksonville State, which competes in the East Division of the OVC, is retooling for seventh-year head coach James Green. The Gamecocks finished 10-21 last season and were 4-12 in the league. The West Division includes Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, Eastern Illinois and Southeast Missouri.
“They (Gamecocks) get up and down the court and I like to play that style of basketball,” Townser said. “I think I’ll be able to step right in for them.”
Townser had several D-1 choices after two successful seasons at SWIC. He also considered Cal-Bakersfield, UMKC and Mercer. Yet the opportunity to play regularly in the mid-level OVC appealed to him. The Gamecocks are in Jacksonville, Ala., near the foothills of the Appalachians touching the northeast corner of the state.
The past two years, Townser served as point guard for coach Jay Harrington’s Blue Storm team, which enjoyed a successful run. SWIC was 19-13 last year and the Blue Storm won 22 games during Townser’s freshman season.
“I loved it there (SWIC) and I loved playing for coach Harrington,” Townser said of the longtime Blue Storm coach. Harrington, the school’s men’s basketball coach since 1979 and also the director of athletics, owns more than 700 wins during his long run there.
Townser added, “Playing there and for coach Harrington really prepared me for playing at the next level.”
Harrington said, “JaQuail was a stalwart for us the past two years and one of the smartest players that has ever played for us. He was really, really good the second part of his sophomore year for us and he has a lot of basketball savvy.
“We were 10-9 at one point the past season, but we finished 19-13. JaQuail was the difference.”
Townser averaged 15.5 points, 7 assists and 4 rebounds per game last season in earning first-team, all-Region honors. Another Alton High standout, Tony Bradley played for the Blue Storm from 2011-13. Bradley averaged 12.6 ppg the past season for the University of Cumberlands, an NAIA school in Williamsburg, Ky.
Roxana’s Hunter Reine will be a sophomore at SWIC next season and one of Harrington’s newcomers is guard De’Antae McMurray of Alton.
“I learned to become a better leader the last two seasons,” Townser said. “I took charge on the floor and in the locker room. And my shooting, scoring and defense improved.”
He also made vast improvement during his high school days. Townser served as a key member of the Redbirds’ 2010-11 regional championship team his senior season. Alton went 18-13 under coach Will Gordon.
“JaQuail was an outstanding guard at the varsity level and two-time all-SWC performer, “Gordon said. “Jaquail helped lead the Redbirds to their only regional title since 2007.”
Gordon added, “Jaquail always showed flashes of being a Division I player and now he will. Jaquail will be a solid guard in the Ohio Valley Conference.”